Environmental advocates, fishermen, and residents of several states on the Gulf of Mexico appeared at a virtual hearing on Wednesday protesting a bill and other measures to expand ocean aquaculture. Under the new legislation, which is looking to settle a long-running debate over the future of aquaculture in the United States, fish farming would be allowed in federal waters.
The fish-killing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer is the third-smallest in 34 years of surveys, reported scientists. At 2,116 square miles, the hypoxic region is about one-third the size of the forecast of 6,700 square miles.
The fish-killing “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this summer covers 6,952 square miles, midway in size between Connecticut and New Jersey, said researchers on Thursday. It is the eighth-largest dead zone in 33 years of keeping records.
Conservationists are expressing relief over the U.S. Department of Commerce’s agreement not to extend the 2018 recreational fishing season for Gulf of Mexico red snapper beyond what science warrants. An extension in 2017 had threatened the already over-exploited fishery. (No paywall)
Marine scientists estimate the low-oxygen "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico covers a record 8,776 square miles, or one-seventh of the basin. "This large dead zone size shows that nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed, is continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf," said NOAA.
The harmful effects of fertilizer runoff are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, as more extreme precipitation washes excess nutrients into U.S. waterways, causing dead zones, says a study published in Science. “The authors found that future climate change-driven increases in rainfall in the United States could boost nitrogen runoff by as much as 20 percent by the end of the century,” says The New York Times.
Two environmental groups sued the U.S. Department of Commerce over a new recreational fishing policy that—by the government’s own estimate—will delay the recovery of Gulf of Mexico red snapper populations by up to six years.
Heavy rainfall in May washed the equivalent of an estimated 2,800 rail cars of nitrogen fertilizer down the Mississippi River and will create the third-largest fish-killing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico in 32 years of monitoring, say federal scientists. They forecast a low-oxygen dead zone of 8,185 square miles, about the size of New Jersey.
Sport fishermen, angry over strict limits to the recreational red-snapper catch, are organizing protests along the Gulf of Mexico for June 4. The anglers say the three-day recreational snapper season set by the federal government is cripplingly short and the source of lost business for local marinas and tackle shops.
A sweeping study of 78 fisheries concludes that market-based “catch share” programs help alleviate a vexing problem: the panicky “race to fish” that shortens seasons, harms fish populations, and imperils the safety of commercial anglers. The study was published in Nature, as Congress considers whether to limit these programs’ expansion.
A variety of USDA programs will be tapped to provide $328 million in technical and financial assistance to improve water quality and restore coastal ecosystems over three years on agricultural land in the Gulf of Mexico area, said USDA. The strategy calls for conservation improvements on 3.2 million acres of high-priority land in 200 counties and parishes.
The House Committee on Natural Resources approved a measure Wednesday that would shift all management of the Gulf red-snapper fishery to state-government hands. The 24-14 vote represents a victory for private recreational anglers, who have been battling commercial fishers over access to the coveted trophy fish.
Over-fished for years, red snapper populations in the Gulf of Mexico have rebounded under federal regulation of the commercial catch that took effect in 2007. But this fisheries management success story has also spewed a bitter brawl between commercial boats and recreational anglers over who gets to fish and who should regulate the fishery. "How do we fairly divide the products of a finite sea while also respecting the constraints of biology?" writes Barry Yeoman in a story for FERN produced in partnership with Texas Monthly magazine.
The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest since 2002 and more than three times bigger than the target set by the so-called Hypoxia Task Force.
Scientists forecast an average-sized "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year of 5,483 square miles, "or about the size of Connecticut," says the U.S. Geological Survey.
It would cost $2.7 billion a year to reduce by two-thirds the size of the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico through reductions in nutrient runoff, says a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Agriculture Department and a congressionally created foundation will put up to $100 million into restoration of wetlands, farmland and waterways damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010.
Groups representing soybean, corn and hog farmers in Iowa formed an alliance to encourage farmers in the Hawkeye state to voluntarily reduce nutrient runoff, said DTN.